Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images
California will require government employees and some health care workers to provide evidence of Covid-19 or undergo mandatory weekly tests, senior state officials said Monday.
According to a press release, government officials are required to submit records of their vaccination by August 2. All civil servants who have not been vaccinated by then must present a negative Covid test at least once a week.
The new policy for health workers and convention facilities goes into effect on August 9, and health facilities must be fully complied with by August 23, according to the press release.
In government health care facilities, employees who work in a hospital are required to show evidence of a Covid vaccine or show negative coronavirus tests twice a week. Unvaccinated people are advised to wear N95 masks while working. Medical staff in outpatient facilities such as dental practices also have to do a Covid test once a week.
“We are at a point in this epidemic of this pandemic where the choice, the individual’s decision not to be vaccinated, is now profound, devastating and deadly on the rest of us,” Governor Gavin Newsom said at the announcement new arrangement. “This election has led to an increase in the number of cases, growing concerns about rising mortality rates and apparently induced hospitalizations.”
While the state already requires employees to disclose whether they have been vaccinated if they do not wish to wear masks indoors, they do not need to provide proof of vaccination. The new guidelines require proof of vaccination for all civil servants and mandatory tests for those who do not provide proof.
“Our projections are sobering,” said Newsom, noting that state officials are forecasting a “significant increase in hospital admissions” over the next few weeks that will put pressure on local hospitals.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio recently introduced similar guidelines for city and health workers, NBC New York reported. All employees who fail to provide proof of vaccination by September 13 are required to have a weekly coronavirus test, and all unvaccinated employees must wear a mask at work starting August 2.
The San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance, which represents 500 bars in San Francisco, said it is encouraging its members to require customers to have a negative Covid test or proof of vaccination from July 29, requirements are “welcome to sit outside.” The individual bars have a choice of whether to enforce the requirements or not.
California saw vaccination rates rise 16% last week as the Delta variant quickly spread across the state. It now makes up about 80% of all newly sequenced cases in the state, health officials said.
Los Angeles County recently redesigned its indoor mask mandate regardless of vaccination status.
When asked about a statewide mask mandate, Newsom said the majority of Californians live in jurisdictions that either mandate or encourage the use of masks. “Our focus is on vaccinations, so there won’t be a need.” he said.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also announced Monday that it will require Covid vaccinations for all health care workers who work in Veterans Health Administration facilities.
“VA is taking this necessary step to protect the veterans it serves,” the agency wrote on its website. It is the first federal agency to mandate vaccinations and give employees eight weeks to get their vaccinations.